Vote HAL for President!

Moore’s Law

In 1965 Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel, made an observation that is now commonly known as Moore’s Law. The number of transistors on a chip doubles every 2 years. We can take from this that computers become twice as powerful every 2 years. Of course there are atomic limits but…See

Dr Ray Kurzweil

Dr Ray Kurzweil Director of Engineering at Google, told the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) yesterday that “The paradigm shift rate is now doubling every decade, so the next half century will see 32 times more technical progress than the last half century. Computation, communication, biological technologies – for example, DNA sequencing – brain scanning, knowledge of the human brain, and human knowledge in general are all accelerating at an ever-faster pace, generally doubling price-performance, capacity and bandwidth every year.

Watch this video, for a fascinating talk by Ray from November 2012.

AI Overtakes HI – The Singularity

So what happens if non-biological intelligence reaches the ability of human intelligence and then overtakes it and when is that likely to be?

Well in pure processing power (MIPS) computers are currently (2013) at a level of a mouse’s brain but by 2030, if predictions hold, it will be at the level of a human brain. Even more impressive is that because of the massive leap in complexity between a mouse and human brain compared to the global population it is relatively soon after by 2050 that a single computer could have the processing power equivalent to every human being on the planet!

Today we take it for granted that we can watch videos on our SmartPhones and yet back in say 2000 we were playing with primitive WAP sites!

The term Artificial Intelligence was first used by John McCarthy in 1956. The science fiction writer Arthur C Clarke featured an AI computer called HAL in 2001:A Space Odyssey that had a similar level of intelligence as a person but was more dependable and of course could watch over the crew of the “Discovery One” while they were in cryogenic hibernation. You will be familiar with what ultimately happened from the film!

Remember the line? “I’m sorry Dave I can’t do that”….


I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that.

Of course in science fact things were way behind the science fiction curve around AI until IBM’s “Deep Blue” computer became the first machine to beat a chess champion in 1997!

Could AI Run a Business?

Running a business is essentially about taking in inputs from the market from customers and operational processes and making decisions to create financial value for shareholders.

Depending on the business the operational processes could easily be run by AI, in many businesses they are probably already significantly computerised now.

But what about the customer interface? We tend to think that human interaction is paramount here, but what is really key is customer service. Think back to call centre telephone support systems, they are pretty horrendous; “we are experiencing high call volumes, your call is important us, please hold”. We are ultimately grateful to talk to a person but we get equally frustrated with them as they proceed to not help us and then finally ask “is there anything else I can help you with”.

So AI customer service could be much more efficient, effective and less frustrating, it could detect quickly from our speech and intonation our personality mode and determine the best way to interact with us to leave us with the perception of excellent customer service.

Of course AI could easily understand and forecast the financial side of the business and could make decisions and therefore run a company well and deliver the best possible shareholder value.

Could AI Run a Country?

Running a country adds scale and a socio-economic dimension. So again it must be possible. If not running a country, because that feels like total human abdication, then what about as an AI advisor to the human government of a country?

The point is that once AI has the power of every human brain on the planet what do we do with it? Surely we should consult it, since it could have the entire collective knowledge of the human race and a decision making ability refined by all of the human decision in history in all fields.

In 20 Years Time

In 20 years time the SmartPhone in your pocket will be a million times more powerful than it is today, what will you do with it or perhaps more appropriately what will it do with you?

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